Frank Wilhoit succinctly encapsulates how at least a subset of conservatives - I suppose he would say all conservatives - appear to think:

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:

There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

This may feel contrary to the classic, now feeling extremely old-fashioned, idea that conservative politics tends towards the politics of law and order.

That sentiment was never straightforward to interpret. There is more to law and order than proudly caging the largest number of people you could possibly justify in an entirely inadequate prison system. But in Wilhoit’s telling it presumably can’t really ever be the case. At least not whilst the law purports to be something that applies equally to all people.

At any moment in time the conservative parties and surrounding movement might look to be extremely pro law and order. But this just means that the law is such that it currently promotes their own interests, usually at the expense of some other group’s interest. Should this stop being the case, so will the avid conservative fandom around the legal process.

These examples are probably so obvious as to not really be worth expressing, but we can see how quickly certain branches of the UK and US conservative movements reacted with wanton disrespect for the legal process and norms as soon as their political heroes - Boris Johnson and Donald Trump - were called to account for their illegal and immoral behaviour.

Johnson was more than happy to explicitly break international law to get his own personally-preferred type of Brexit. In the mean time, some of the conservative British media attempted to brand judges who were insufficiently enthusiastic about that same event as being “enemies of the people”. Trump’s supporters, well, some of them famously engaged in a violent insurrection.

In Wilhoit’s mind then, what would anti-conservatism thinking look like? Simply put, the idea that:

The law cannot protect anyone unless it binds everyone; and it cannot bind anyone unless it protects everyone.

As a sidenote, we’re not talking about Francis Wilhoit the political scientist, but rather Frank Wilhoit the classical music composer who just happens to share the same name.